London Fashion Week and Princess Anne are not two phrases you expect to hear together – and yet earlier this week, The Princess Royal visited St Etheldreda’s Church, Holborn, to present The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
Anne, who donned an emerald green skirt suit for the occasion, presented the design award to Rosh Mahtani for her Alighieri jewellery line.
She met the designer during her show in the crypt of St Ethelfreda’s, and met with Alighieri’s models, who were skimpily dressed! The Royal, ever the consummate professional, smiled and took it in her stride.
Anne was also introduced to British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful. He collaborated with The Duchess of Sussex last year with a ‘Forces For Change’ edition of the mag.
Rosh Mahtani is the first jewellery designer to be given the accolade; she earned the award for her commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. Based in Hatton Garden, the designer uses responsibly sourced materials, promotes local manufacturing with casters in the city, and supports employment. She was chosen for this, alongside “her unique attention to detail and focus on craftsmanship and community”.
It seems to be reflective of society’s – and the fashion world’s – focus on our impact on the environment; the fashion industry is known to be one of the leading polluters.
“The biggest thing we can do is try to create things that are forever, and not adhere to trends,” Mahtani told Vogue. “It’s never about [creating] something that’s then not relevant next season. All of our bronze is recycled … I believe in knowing exactly who’s made [our pieces]. It’s for the environment, but it’s also because of a personal connection with that business.”
Alighieri is inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and was launched in 2014. The brand is known hammered gold-plated pieces, which Mahtani hopes will becomes something of a “modern heirloom”.
Presenting the award on behalf of The Queen, Princess Anne said that London had been a “hotbed of jewellery manufacture for hundreds of years” and said she was delighted that this year the award had gone to a fine jewellery designer.
The Princess Royal is also president of UK Fashion and Textile Association.
Mahatani’s latest collection ‘Love in The Waste Land’ was showcased at the event, in the atmospheric crypt, lined with candles, busts wearing her creations; live music created a haunting soundtrack and background for the line.
The Queen Elizabeth II award for British design was launched in 2018 to recognise the achievements of young designers that are “making a difference to society through either sustainable practices or community engagement”. The winner is selected by the British Fashion Council (BFC), in collaboration with the royal household.
“Mahtani has managed to translate her passion for jewellery and storytelling into a highly successful business while using responsibly sourced materials,” said the BFC chief executive, Caroline Rush, who co-hosted the event. “Her ethical approach and commitment to local manufacturing, combined with her ability to make beautiful, timeless, made-by-hand jewellery, makes her an inspiration for many young British designers.”